When I looked for an apartment, I wanted a place where I could get my everyday errands done without always having to get in the car. Walkable preferably, or bikeable if needed.
It worked, especially in the food department, which in my view is the most important department. My place is around a 10-minute walk from a Ralph's (common grocery store chain here), a Trader Joe's (organic and health-conscious food under their own label grocery store, and not pricey), a Whole Foods (pricier organics, but a whole large grocery store of them), and the Los Angeles Farmer's market (not too heavy on the real farmers, but has all those handy stalls for things like meat, poultry, fish, specialty items, take-out food, etc.).
I'm also right near The Grove, an upscale outdoor pedestrian shopping mall. I won't be doing much shopping there, but it's still neat to be so close, and there's a great big bookstore there, I think it's a Barnes and Noble.
Sometimes when you see paparazzi photos of celebrities in the paper, they're taken at the Grove or the Farmer's market. I won't be watching too closely for celebrities though, I'm not plugged into enough pop culture to recognize very many!
The apartment complex is across the street from the Pan Pacific city park, which I haven't had a chance to check out yet, but it looks like a nice medium-size city park, and L.A. doesn't seem to have too many parks.
I wasn't sure when I picked this spot how good it would be for cycling, but my preliminary report is, so far so good. Yesterday I took a ride up to the entrance to Runyon Park at the base of the Hollywood Hills, and the way there was very nice, down residential streets that had traffic lights where they crossed major streets. I think biking will be fine once I find a network of streets like that, and I don't think it will be difficult, the street layout here is a lot more predictable and user-friendly than Ottawa.
I'm within an easy bike-ride of a lot of the tourist stuff, like Sunset Blvd. and the stuff up that-a-way, and about 2o minutes biking from the Hollywood hills, which I won't tackle on the bike until the weather cools down a bit. I was sweating pretty heavily yesterday just from biking to the base of them! Until you get close to the hills though the landscape is nice and flat for biking, yet the hills are visible to provide visual interest.
I'm a little further from the ocean than I would have liked, when I measured on the map it was at least 12 km from here, and judging from my ride on Saturday it might be more like 15+. But, you can't have everything, and it's still an easy biking distance, or driving for that matter (although parking there might be an issue, must look into that, and also driving in that part of town is also said to be a nightmare.). I'm also more central to other things by living here, so it's a trade-off. Plus, rents seemed to be even higher in Santa Monica and Venice (neighborhoods that are adjacent to the beach).
Even the subway (yes, L.A. does have one!) is only ~2km or less east of here, I could bike or walk to the end of one of the lines, although I don't think I'll need to travel so far very often that I'd need it. Still, for those places it does pass close to, I'm sure it beats driving, and I will use it!
Oh, and there's a K-Mart within a 10-minute walk, too. And a Goodwill, where I bought some of my very rudimentary furniture. So my bargain-basement needs are covered too.
It's nice and far from the highways (which are everywhere!), so just a quiet distant hum of city traffic noise (I'm on the 9th floor), but very close to a fire station! Luckily the firefighters aren't horn-honkers, but they are siren-users, so I hear those several times a day. There are a lot of helicopters passing overhead too, especially during afternoon rush-hour, I suspect most of those are traffic reporters.
All in all, I'm pretty happy with the neighborhood so far, and pretty lucky that it turned out well, considering I'd never been here before renting the place while I was still back in Ottawa!